Heart String Marionette, animated movie by M dot Strange

Center of the Netherworld in Heart String Marionette

[Video Link] In 2007, We Are the Strange opened at the Sundance Film Festival. It was self-taught, underground animator, M dot Strange's first feature-length 3D animated film. Half of the midnight Sundance audience walked out, but the half that stayed were treated to one of the most original, disturbing 3D animated films ever made (seriously). That film went on to win several awards and provide M dot with opportunities to tour around the world giving lectures and workshops and screening his strange film.

Now, after 5 years of intense work in his computer-stuffed San Jose basement, professional weirdo, M dot Strange, is releasing his second feature-length 3D animated film, Heart String Marionette, on June 15, 2012. The obsessed director has been chronicling every step of production on his popular YouTube channel and his very frank blog. Collaborating with experimental musician ENDIKA lengthened the production process a bit, so while he was waiting he created 8 episodes of his “BADassery” series, wrote several books about his DIY film philosophy and started a new animated sex series, Darksided.

Heart String Marionette is M dot's ode to his favorite Anime and Samurai films. Internet Movie Databas describes it as “A tale about a kid, a samurai mime, and a stripper who all try to defeat a warlord and an evil clown who have successfully turned the countryside into a never ending nightmare filled with horrible monsters.”

Heart String Marionette was created entirely from scratch inside of MAXON's Cinema 4D and features M dot's signature obsessions with power, innocence and twisted love. And, of course, it's presented in a very strange and original style borrowed partially from Samurai films like Sword of Doom and Japanese Noh Theater. The film has an international cast drawn largely from outsider bands. JP Anderson (band Rabbit Junk) is Samhaine, Jimmy Urine (band Mindless Self Indulgence) plays The Body, Peter Mohamed (band Sweet Noise) plays The Devil, and Rakel Musicbox is The Wasp Woman.

Dissatisfied with the festival circuit and unwilling to compromise, M dot decided to release the film himself via its own website and offer interested fans the opportunity to become “affiliates” by allowing them to sell Heart String Marionette on their own website and share the profit. He has documented the entire distribution process on his blog in a nine part series (Selling Digital Downloads of Your Film) along with lots of production tutorials on his filmmaking style and philosophy at his YouTube channel.

Heart String Marionette will premiere officially on June 15th, 2012. You can watch the entire film for free in Standard Definition or shell out $5 for a HD version, plus the very cool soundtrack and additional “making of” features. It's worth every penny, believe me.

Heart String Marionette website

Siouxsie barks a command to Samhaine in
Heart String Marionette


  1. Quick note, the link associated with “Heart String Marionette website” just leads back to this same story.  


    1.  I was going to say this as well.
      It’s selling point shouldn’t be that it’s ‘weird,’ as though ‘weird’ hasn’t been done to death already.  It seems like they couldn’t figure out anything to say about the film so they tried to paint it as rebellious or ‘twizzzted.’

      Trailer Park Avante Garde for Juggalos – that’s about it.

      1. What’s a “selling point”? I’m just some animator guy who made this stupid trailer for the lulz haha… say what you want about the trailer…. I guarantee the film will blow your mind… there is weird yes… and it has been done to death.. BUT what happens to weird after it dies? It goes into the Nether World where our fine film begins ^_^

        There is no “they” I’m just one guy who did everything but the music and the voices… Its only 5 bucks and I guarantee it will fuck your mind, HARD… five bucks per mind fuck… if your not in the market for a good mind fucking yes this is not your cup of tea ^_^ Thanks for watching.

        1. Yeah, I’m just throwing in my two cents based off of the impression I got from a 3:00 trailer.  Maybe I’ll watch it and change my mind.

          At the very least, you put tons of effort into making something that you’re proud of, and I can admire that regardless of aesthetic differences.

          1. Fer sure! It should be released in the next few days and I’ll put out some more trailers  which should frame it in a different way…. But yeh I suck at presenting my films, its the hardest part for me…  thanks for taking the time to comment and check out the trailer!

        1. Like I said, this was my impression after a goofy trailer. It’s pure speculation.

          So yes, your assessment is correct.

          1. I understand, most previews speak politely like grown ups while pushing their product, torture porn,  and their other various agendas. Pixar already has the family market covered M Dot just doesnt care hes finding his own audience  that have grown weary of the hum drum norm. There should be a hat for every head.

    2. If you like the animation style ignore my idiotic voice over as I’m just an idiot like that ^_^ I’m not a juggalo, I don’t even know any… though I have nothing against the chaps… I don’t know who the “target audience” is as I’m too busy animating and the like..BUT I guarantee the film is like NOTHING you have ever seen before… well  hope you give the film a chance some time down the road. Thanks for watching.

      1. Speaking for the stuff I do (product design) presentation is by far the hardest part and I really wish I could just make stuff and not have to worry about that side of it at all. But of course it doesn’t work that way. All I can say is it almost always helps to get some other eyes on it.

        So yeah, the trailer is over the top and I know it’s meant to be, I get the joke. I’m interested by what’s going on and I think the general type of hook you’re using can work with it. At the risk of being annoyingly enigmatic, I would just say… less is more? For instance, if you do some thing like “Uh, wh… ?” and just kind of leave it out there, I think it has more impact than saying “motherfucker!” a whole lot.

        Or anyway, that’s my shot at it.

      2.  I appreciate the fact that you have taken your time to show up in this thread and answer questions and face criticisms and do so in a civil way.  That earns you high marks in my book.

        I will indeed check it out because I’m a fan of unusual/creepy/weird animation.  I’m sure if there was no voiceover in the trailer, I would have signed up already.  Opinions/assholes, etc.

        1. the graphics look cool, and while I did find the trailer annoying — and tantalizing for what it did show — I would have found it less annoying with ONLY the voiceover, no text (repeating the graphics). Still tantalizing — perhaps even moreso, because I wouldn’t have been focused on “aaaargh, more text!”

  2. I really wanted to like “We Are the Strange”.  I really admire the whole self taught DIY animation thing, and the atmosphere was really great.  But honestly I can’t get over the whole Jonny the Homicidal Maniac wearing a Nightmare Before Christmas hoodie feeling of it all.

    1. Well umm I’ve never read Jonny the Homicidal Maniac and I hate The Nightmare Before Christmas so I’m perplexed as its more like The Brothers Quay meets a Noh production of Ninja Scroll set in Silent Hill if you ask me ^_^

        1. Thanks Riley! Yeh this trailer was kinda just a joke but  I work really hard to try to make unique stuff… and yeh this movie is more influenced by Noh theater and eastern european puppet animation than anything else… I suck at marketing and advertising but I’m trying to learn… so right now I’m not really good at presenting my films accurately.

        2. I have mad respect for you drawn animators as thats the truest and most difficult form of animation… yer animation is twisted and awesome ^ ^ I’m going to post it on my blog as I know my readers would enjoy it!

        1. Hey Bradley! If you liked WATS you’ll love the new film! Yeh I guess the link in the post doesn’t work?! Just go to youwilldieinside.com thanks d00d!

    2.  Burton has to pay people to make art for him in the same vein he once tinkered with. While he sits in his 60 million dollar house in France not worrying how lame hes gotten. M Dot here Is pioneering a new voice in artistic expression. One man doesnt make feature length film an cartoons himself. Now M Dot has changed the field an soon when the real artist are making film we will hear new voices. Not just these studio lackey puppets. There is going to be an interesting shift. People will be reaching new vistas of story telling. Everyone who tried to make an animated film an got discouraged in the past will look on these tools with new eyes. New plug ins will make it easier for anyone with even rudimentary skills to use. So many people with stories to tell will start to flourish like thistles in the waste of the entertainment industry that today is a desert.

    1. Thanks for the news Comic book guy- I’ll add “Made worst trailer ever” to my bio ^_^

    1. Thanks for the order Jim! I’m uploading the film right now so you should get your film download link soon! Thanks again!

  3. I really hope mdotstrange is under 21.  It would be sad to hear a middle-aged man say, “Shit just got real mawfokkaz!”

    1. I’m twelve years old and what is this? 

      Sad really? Sad? Sad is children being murdered… sad is the destruction of the environment…

      A grown ass man like me saying SHIT JUST GOT REAL MUTHAFUCKAS just means SHIT GOT REAL MUTHAFUCKA!

      Stay Gangsta and drive safe.

      1. Far be it from me to jump your shit, but perhaps what the nice people here are trying to suggest is that a grown ass man has probably heard the phrase “SHIT JUST GOT REAL MOTHAFUCKAS!!!” applied to everything from Taliban attacks to taco sauce. So if you were instead to just tease them with something that makes them think, their imagination will supply whatever version of that is actually most meaningful to them.

        I’m a grown ass man and I endorse this message.

        1. Point taken- I have a trailer I had been working on for months-long story short-the composer was lagging and didn’t finish the music in time to include the trailer in this piece so I made this entire trailer including voiceover in approx 30 minutes last Friday night ^ ^ So it was a rush rush job hence the “cliche trailer” title.. the official trailer that is much of what you are describing will be released soon.

          Thank you for your comment.

        2. haha well was just saying I know its not my best work BUT at least I didn’t miss the deadline ^ ^

    1. I don’t know who “they” are as I’m the guy that does everything ^ ^ so any mistakes are made by me so sorry!

      But his name isn’t Samhain its Samhaine… a hybrid of Samhain the pagan holiday and haine the french word for hate… and that’s how it is pronounced in the world of Heart String Marionette. Thanks for watching! 

  4. The “Heart String Marionette website” link points back to this page.
    Shouldn’t it point to youwilldieinside.com, as shown at the end of the trailer?

  5. This looks beautiful M Dot. The backgrounds seem so immense. My computer is freezing just thinking about the render times

    1. Glad you like it! The render times weren’t so bad unless I was using RUTHLESS VOLUMETRIC LIGHTING?! (cowers in fear)

  6. Awesome MDot. I just finished teaching a week of stop motion to kids today. On day 2 I had  I shown them a bit WATS (from the collector DVD :)) and the behind the scenes stuff as inspiration that they can make a whole film if they put their minds to it.  I said “He is working on a new film, I wonder if it is done…?” Then today bam! I see this and it comes out at the same time! Serendipity. Congrats on persisting for the long haul. I am going to go order my copy now :)

  7. I’m in. This guy made a 3d movie all by himself. That’s insane. It takes and artist and a technician^madscientist_mathmatician to accomplish something that awesome. Cheers

  8. I just bought this last night: it’s like the price of a coffee and doughnut, and I have to say, after watching it I can safely say that I have gotten so much more enjoyment out of the film than I would have out of any pastry/beverage (and much less fat, too).  It’s really rare to see such a personal film on an epic level: the hero was badass!  I will be thinking of this film for years to come.  Thank you M Dot!

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